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New York City Ballet 2021 Season


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On 4/12/2021 at 2:01 AM, pherank said:

Getting back on topic...

NYCB - When We Fell
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8A9xFs31rg

A visually arresting work. The look is kind of mid-century modern in greyscale. I like it as an art film.

The "balcony" viewpoint camera position is initially effective in this particular piece, but I never recommend sticking with that for too long. Front camera and occasional side views are added as dancers are added (Claire Kretzschmar is joined first by Taylor Stanley, and then perhaps Jonathan Fahoury?). But that doesn't last long. The angled overhead viewpoint returns, and gets to be tiring, imo. But that viewpoint does give me the impression I'm looking down at sculptures on a museum floor. In the 2nd section of the ballet the camera view switches to a more standard front positioning - although the camera is now looking up slightly at the dancers - as well as an overhead positioning. In the 3rd section (a PDD with Lauren Lovette and Stanley) we get a simple lighting effect and a return to the front position camera. Here the overhead spot creates long shadows from the dancers bodies and that too reminds me of sculptures displayed in a museum.

I need to rewatch this piece to have something to say about the choreography. I was neither thrilled nor bothered by what I saw - it may well grow on me. I did like the initial section of the choreography - the slow, deliberate movements. Everything very pensive. Villarnini-Velez's partnering of India Bradley was however, a bit clumsy looking. He just didn't move about her in a grounded, graceful manner. And there was too much effort being shown in the holds. That 'group' section of the piece was rougher looking in general than other sections, and simply felt under-rehearsed.

I really enjoyed this ballet. For me, it reminded me so much of the journey of coming into that theater. Being in the lobby myself, then going in and watching dance on the stage, then the camera backs up and you can see the central, globe chandelier and the lights around the "rings" of the balcony. I loved the journey of it, When We Fell.

I enjoyed the quiet of it. The spareness. I love the look of the bodies on the lobby floor seen from above. I've been there so many times. What I remember about India Bradley is her promenade in that crazy 6 o'clock penchée, her legs in a vertical line. I didn't notice the hand holds at all. 

The section onstage had more dynamic dancing, faster tempi, more jumps. Christopher Grant has a solo. I think it's KJ Takahashi who does a phenomenal sequence of jumps and turns, ending on one knee and extending his hands to... another man. Surprising, totally modern. Taylor Stanley and Claire Kretschmar were particularly great, and I don't think I've ever seen Lauren Lovette more lovely and beautiful. She is just exquisitely beautiful in that last duet. I miss her already. 

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School of American Ballet just sent out email that they are planning outdoor performances June 8 and 9 for their spring workshop:

We are thrilled to share the news of the School of American Ballet’s Spring Showcase at Damrosch Park on June 8 and 9, in lieu of our annual Workshop Performances at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater. There will be an exclusive ticket opportunity for Members in mid-May, so please keep an eye on your inbox for additional announcements and information in the coming weeks. Featuring students in our Advanced Division, the program will include variations from nine ballets:

Cortège Hongrois

Divertimento No. 15

Donizetti Variations

La Source

Raymonda Variations

Square Dance

The Four Seasons

Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux

Who Cares?



Staged by:

SAB Faculty Members Aesha Ash, Arch Higgins, Katrina Killian, Kay Mazzo, Allen Peiffer, Susan Pilarre, Suki Schorer, and Andrew Scordato 

 

Tickets will go on sale in mid-May. Stay tuned for more information on ticketing and performance times.

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6 hours ago, California said:

School of American Ballet just sent out email that they are planning outdoor performances June 8 and 9 for their spring workshop:

We are thrilled to share the news of the School of American Ballet’s Spring Showcase at Damrosch Park on June 8 and 9, in lieu of our annual Workshop Performances at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater. There will be an exclusive ticket opportunity for Members in mid-May, so please keep an eye on your inbox for additional announcements and information in the coming weeks. Featuring students in our Advanced Division, the program will include variations from nine ballets:

Cortège Hongrois

Divertimento No. 15

Donizetti Variations

La Source

Raymonda Variations

Square Dance

The Four Seasons

Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux

Who Cares?



Staged by:

SAB Faculty Members Aesha Ash, Arch Higgins, Katrina Killian, Kay Mazzo, Allen Peiffer, Susan Pilarre, Suki Schorer, and Andrew Scordato 

 

Tickets will go on sale in mid-May. Stay tuned for more information on ticketing and performance times.

YAY!!!!!! I'm so glad they figured out how to put outdoor performances together. It took awhile... Here's hoping for good weather.

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8 hours ago, cobweb said:

But maybe there will be a video/livestream?

The pandemic has spoiled us -- we assume we can watch everything on a digital stream now and that won't always be the case! I can't justify a trip to NYC to see one program, but would love to see this on-line. (I had a similar reaction to the Sarasota Ballet announcement of their next season!)

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, vipa said:

The Gala video had its ups and downs in my opinion. I'm looking forward to going to the theater and seeing live dance. 

I agree. I really wish that those filming dance would recognize when a frontal orientation is important to maintain (which in my opinion is almost always, to at least some degree). These dances (with the possible exception of the new Peck — though probably even there, if it's intended to have an afterlife) were designed to be seen on a traditional proscenium stage, and the audience perspective is important to how they visually work. I'm sure it's fun as a filmmaker to get into the space with the dancers and play with the 360-degree orientation, but when watching filmed dance I prefer to see the visual structure of the work more fully respected (as it was in the Duo Concertante excerpt).

Some of Coppola's comments in the recent NYT interview relate to this:

Quote

I’ve enjoyed going to the ballet over the years, but I have never filmed anything with a dance component. And my shooting style is pretty stationary, so to do something where there was so much movement, I had to think about using the camera differently. What was very helpful was getting Justin’s films, shot on his phone, of his rehearsals with Anthony. It was interesting to see his sense of movement.

...

The challenge for me was to convey the feeling of seeing live dance. A lot of dance is filmed in a very flat, standard way. But getting close up, which is thrilling in rehearsal, doesn’t always translate onto film either. I had to move the camera much more than I am used to, and try to give the feel of experiencing a live performance from different vantage points.

There are obviously great inherent challenges to filming dance; I just don't think her solutions to those were generally the best possible ones.

The finale of Divertimento No. 15 is neither the Balanchine finale nor the particular movement from that work that I would have chosen to include — but I suppose it made sense, given the scoring for strings and the number of corps dancers involved.

Regardless, I found it moving to see the company back in these spaces and enjoyed the dancing itself.

Edited by nanushka
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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, nanushka said:

I really wish that those filming dance would recognize when a frontal orientation is important to maintain (which in my opinion is almost always, to at least some degree). These dances (with the possible exception of the new Peck — though probably even there, if it's intended to have an afterlife) were designed to be seen on a traditional proscenium stage, and the audience perspective is important to how they visually work.

Normally, I'm also in the "No fancy camera angles please!" and "For the love of all that is holy, don't cut them off at the knees!" school of filmed dance performance. But I actually appreciated the way Coppola (and Peck) chose to approach this particular project. To me, it felt as much a film about dancers in a space—and poignantly, in this case, a space that they view as a home that they're returning to at last or, even more poignantly, a home that some of them must soon leave again, and for good this time—as it was about the excerpted choreographies, if not more so. I was happy to forgo a permanent "from the stage" record of the Boy in Brown's opening solo in Dances at a Gathering in order to see Gonzalo Garcia more or less embody what that solo is about in the place where he lives. I'm not too proud to admit that it made me cry. (Ditto Maria Kowroski and Ask la Cour's exquisitely tender performance of the "Nachtigall" duet from Liebeslieder Walzer alone in the vastness of the Promenade.) 

I wouldn't want every dance filmed this way, but I loved these particular excerpts, danced by these particular dancers, in this particular space, at this particular time, filmed this way.

An aside: it's just a personal preference, but I always try to get a seat somewhat off to the side whenever I attend a live dance performance because I don't really like the flatness of a head-on, dead center view. I also like being further back and higher up in the theater. So of course I didn't mind it much when the film used those points of view: it wasn't entirely dissimilar from the way I watch dance—ahem, including the occasional selective close up with my binoculars ...

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell
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I had similar thoughts about the DaaG excerpt, actually. (And I teared up as well!) When Duo Concertante was filmed with a very frontal orientation, I thought, "Ok, good, the 360 approach was fine for that first piece but I hope we don't go back to that."

I also tend to sit to the side — primarily due to cost, but I similarly appreciate the oblique view. And when I see multiple casts of the same show, it can be interesting to try both sides (though I tend to be most comfortable audience left, for whatever reason).

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More on the Gala film: Kudos to the powers-that-be for allowing the men to demonstrate the expressive power of things like a beautiful line, or a supple port-de-bras, or finely-tune musicality, etc etc etc rather than using them as pyrotechnic applause machines. 

Yes, Anthony Huxley has a wonderful jump, but honestly, I couldn't make myself stop watching his gorgeous hands and I can't thank Coppola and Peck enough for showing them to me.

Also I'm an Ashley Bouder fan, but I kept wanting to shove her out of the way because she was blocking my view of Russell Janzen getting all sassy with Duo Concertante's folk dance-inflected gestures. 

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I went straight to the dancing and really loved the alternate settings to the first two pieces.  I would have loved the Liebeslieder, but I found the lighting difficult.  I liked what was onstage the least, the Peck again for the lighting, but it was NYCB dancing up a storm, and any chance to see Tiler Peck whip off the central role in Divertimento without breaking a sweat is a joy.

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4 hours ago, nanushka said:

I had similar thoughts about the DaaG excerpt, actually. (And I teared up as well!)

Me three — have heard company members talk about their “home” before, but it finally clicked for me this time, and it was really moving!

Loved the way the whole setup moved us from studio to full-color stage.  Fits in well with the sense of reawakening all around (in springtime, no less!) as we start to return to society.  Can’t wait to be a live audience member again.

And I can’t believe how great the dancers’ technique looks after a year of working in their living rooms.  Tiler Peck remains an astonishment!

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20 hours ago, Helene said:

I would have loved the Liebeslieder, but I found the lighting difficult.

Pointing the camera right at that big wall of windows was ... a bold choice. I'm going to hazard a guess that the Liebeslieder excerpt was shot entirely with natural light. (I'm also curious about whether Coppola opted for film or digital, and, if the latter, if the post-production color grading was done to emulate a classic film stock. She loves film. But I digress.) 

You can thank Mark Stanley for the darking for the Peck piece.

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I thought Sofia Coppola's film was thrilling. It's the first time, with maybe the exception of a couple of Fred Astaire movies, that I felt the camera was adding rather than subtracting. I had the most trouble with the Liebeslieder excerpt - which I also think was natural lighting - but having watched it several times I felt the camera angles from rings above added contrast to the close-ups. I also liked the "space" - the feeling of one couple alone in the ballroom. Like 'after the ball.' I liked the camera inventiveness most in the Peck piece. To see that fascinatingly unique, elegant dancer from every which way added much to my enjoyment. The Divertimento was also beautifully filmed. Nothing tricky and like a breath of fresh air. The company looks wonderful.

 

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I loved the video. I totally accept that watching filmed dance is a different experience that watching a live performance, no matter how it's filmed, because the film maker is directing you eye. Sofia Coppola made convincing and often moving choices. I enjoyed watching several times, however, I will always prefer watching dance live and can't wait to get back to it. It is a different animal. Of course a choreographer directs your eye by structure and content, but as a viewer you have more freedom. You can say, for example, I've seen this ballet a dozen times but never focused on the corps, I think I'll pull out my opera glasses and do that. Or - who's that radiant dancer off to the side, I think I'll watch her.  Film will always have the director's vision, as an added element, and is enjoyable on those terms.

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Posted (edited)

It's interesting to compare this film to the previous When We Fell film. There are certainly a lot of similarities in setting, and overall look and feel. Both films are shot mainly in black and white (the last gala performance is in color). Most everything up through the Liebeslieder PDD is filmed with minimal camera movement - and camera tracking is very gentle and smooth. The head-on frontal camera position is prevalent. And I agree with others that shooting from a slight angle is preferable since it provides a better sense of depth. Over reliance on straight shots tends to flatten out the image plane (and the geometry of the choreography - especially in Divertimento). When We Fell used a lot of high angle camera positioning, whereas Coppola's Gala film keeps the camera mostly between the knees and waist-level (Liebeslieder gets a few bird's eye view shots inserted since it is being filmed in the theater hall). Justin Peck's Solo variation incorporates some 'choreographed' camera movements. I didn't find them to be too obtrusive, fortunately. Divertimento No. 15 includes some tighter framing on soloists, which is to be expected. Coppola doesn't just stick with one approach or another - she makes choices, as one would presume of an experienced director.

All in all an enjoyable film. It just felt short to me in terms of performance time. Maybe that's because it was working.

Best quote:
"It's so hard ...for anybody to be separated from those they love, but I think for the New York City Ballet - we really only exist together."

Edited by pherank
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I agree largely with what nanushka and vipa said. I'm not a New Yorker so the pandemic has afforded me the opportunity to see more of NYCB's current crop of dancers than I ever could under normal circumstances and I'm intensely grateful for that, but if I were a subscriber, this movie would only make me hungrier for the real thing onstage.

Did not care for Bouder in Duo Concertant. Tiler Peck was great, but that has been true every time I have seen her.

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My favorite part of the gala was after the curtain fell on Divertimento.  The sheer joy bubbling from the dancers at being back was quite moving.  The world needs to see more of this,  as so few outsiders seem to understand that ballet dancers love what they do.  You'd never know it from the media.

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Posted (edited)


It was very nice to see this return to Lincoln Center. Hopefully before too long the company will be in full swing again.

I particularly liked the Liebeslieder Walzer (excerpt). I think that it was a  beautiful choice. Maria Kowroski and Ask la Cour were elegant. The performance was absolutely lovely. The choice of setting and photography was very fine.

I also enjoyed much of Ashley Bouder and Russel Janzen in the Duo Concertant (excerpt) and  found the large group Divertimento No. 15 to be fun and brilliant. It capsulised the way that George Balanchine could be in control of so many elements. When the work might seem to start drifting, something brilliant (footwork, formations) would occur to elevate and carry it away. I also liked the few moments at the end when several of the dancers were filmed closeup from the side, blocking the full view of the of the others -- someone seemed to be really thinking "Degas".     

Edited by Buddy
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The world of George Balanchine does really surprise and delight me at times. My preference in dance is for the more graceful and dreamlike. George Balanchine is probably most famous for his genius invention and a more energetic and intellectual approach. But, he's also created some of the most beautiful lyrical works that I've ever seen.

Now, as somewhat of a new discovery, are his waltzes. The performance by Maria Kowroski and Ask la Cour is absolutely lovely. It opens up a new area of beauty. The waltz, as I recall from my teenage dance lessons and general tv viewing, is beautiful but perhaps more about uniformity than creativity. Then along comes George Balanchine with, as he did with so many things, a new world of possibilities. The waltz becomes a point of departure into dreamlike beauty.

I'm very impressed with the lyrical invention of the Liebeslieder Walzer excerpt. 

By the way, the manner in which this was filmed, using the natural light from the huge front windows to create contrasting light and shadow on Maria Kowroski and Ask la Cour, especially on their faces, is very finely and artistically done. Their silhouetting is also very effective.

All this sent me on a quick exploration of the entire work and George Balanchine's Vienna Waltzes. I'm particularly caught up in Suzanne Farrell's solo dancing at the end of Vienna Waltzes. The idea of waltzing solo, in itself, is intriguing, and in such a personally expressive way. Then George Balanchine blends this into an artistically exciting, Broadway-like finale. And the way that he comes up with so many other possibilities throughout both these works is highly impressive. I look forward to exploring much more of this area of his creativity.       

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I've been ignoring the idea of renewing my NYCB subscription, for a number of reasons, laziness included. I got an actual mailing today and looked through it. Some things bother me. Correct me if I've made factual errors. 

It seems they re doing Symphony in C on opening night and not again. Am I correct? Why rehearse for one show? Slaughter is on two different programs. I don't mind seeing it, occasionally but don't want to see it several times a year. There is a strong focus on new choreography. I know this is a particular love of Wendy Whelan's. I don't want NYCB to be a museum, however I do want it to remain unique. They do the Balanchine rep like no other company. Do I really need to see NYCB do so many works that other companies could do as well or better?

Maybe I'm just an old fogey but I want more Balanchine rep, and more careful programing of the works.

Needless to say I'm not convinced a subscription is a good idea this go-round.

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I'm with you, vipa! I did subscribe, but when I look through the offerings I'm disappointed... not a good way to feel when heading back after a year and a half. Where are the Balanchine specialties, rarities, and delights? Isn't that what most of the audience has been pining for?

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, vipa said:

I've been ignoring the idea of renewing my NYCB subscription, for a number of reasons, laziness included. I got an actual mailing today and looked through it. Some things bother me. Correct me if I've made factual errors. 

It seems they re doing Symphony in C on opening night and not again. Am I correct? Why rehearse for one show? Slaughter is on two different programs. I don't mind seeing it, occasionally but don't want to see it several times a year. There is a strong focus on new choreography. I know this is a particular love of Wendy Whelan's. I don't want NYCB to be a museum, however I do want it to remain unique. They do the Balanchine rep like no other company. Do I really need to see NYCB do so many works that other companies could do as well or better?

Maybe I'm just an old fogey but I want more Balanchine rep, and more careful programing of the works.

Needless to say I'm not convinced a subscription is a good idea this go-round.

It was interesting to me to read your comments--oh! as I'm typing @cobweb just weighed in as well.  I have tentatively decided against a trip to NY in Fall, strong emotions notwithstanding -- and there will probably be a lot of emotion in the theater and onstage. My reasoning is that not one single weekend do the two programs promise enough that (for me) qualifies as "must" see/can't live without -- and it's very hard to justify travel expenses for a weekend even when I factor in that sometimes the programs or ballets I'm less excited about turn out to be much better than expected and that all of it is bound to be good in some fashion.  (It's an expensive trip.) Each weekend there was one ballet, where I thought--yes, I'd come up for that (including 21st-century works) and maybe one or two other ballets where I thought 'well, that could be interesting' or 'that would be nice,' but taken altogether I was a wee bit deflated by the programming.

It did occur to me that perhaps the problem was me and not the programming--I know I'm far from mentally "post-Covid--but, as I say, it was interesting to me to read Vipa's and Cobweb's reaction to the season.

On a different note I enjoyed the gala -- the whole thing, but especially the two male solos (and I consider myself a decidedly ballerina-centric fan). The opening Robbins solo looked as if it could have been created for this specific occasion of the return to the State Theater...a dancer in a studio resuming his dancing life...and I found that quite magical. (And the way the camera just flowed with the casualness of it.) And I found the new Justin Peck solo for Huxley terribly moving--I guess it could just have been the Barber adagio for strings having its patented tear-jerking impact, but I think Peck and Huxley played a role too. And it had a wonderful resonance with the Robbins. Huxley's dancing, too, as mediated by the black and white film, was just breathtakingly beautiful. What a great dancer. And hurray for Sophia Coppola--

 

Edited by Drew
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